STEIG & THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

 

I have really worked hard to avoid the whole Steig Larsson thing that is going on.

Sure, it is an interesting story. Minor writer, activist, living in Sweden, who is described as ‘a leading expert on antidemocratic right wing extremists and Nazi organizations’ turns in the Millennium trilogy, but passes away shortly after. The book makes it big in Sweden, they are translated and 40 million+ of copies are sold around the world. It was made into a movie in Sweden and an English version with Daniel Craig is out at Christmas. An international sensation in the making. In fact, he has now become a cultural icon, with a sense of ‘conspiracy’ surrounding his death and life as an activist:

To be exact, Stieg Larsson died on November 9, 2004, which I can’t help noticing was the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Is it plausible that Sweden’s most public anti-Nazi just chanced to expire from natural causes on such a date? Larsson’s magazine, Expo, which has a fairly clear fictional cousinhood with “Millennium,” was an unceasing annoyance to the extreme right. He himself was the public figure most identified with the unmasking of white-supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations, many of them with a hard-earned reputation for homicidal violence. The Swedes are not the pacific herbivores that many people imagine: in the footnotes to his second novel Larsson reminds us that Prime Minister Olof Palme was gunned down in the street in 1986 and that the foreign minister Anna Lindh was stabbed to death (in a Stockholm department store) in 2003. The first crime is still unsolved, and the verdict in the second case has by no means satisfied everybody.

A report in the mainstream newspaper Aftonbladet describes the findings of another anti-Nazi researcher, named Bosse Schön, who unraveled a plot to murder Stieg Larsson that included a Swedish SS veteran. Another scheme misfired because on the night in question, 20 years ago, he saw skinheads with bats waiting outside his office and left by the rear exit.

Having read about him online, it seems that his pre-book life was filled with noble efforts. One has to wonder, what would he have done with his vast wealth had he lived? (I am sure the extreme right wouldn’t have liked it). Which is why I pondered reading the book, even though it contained sentences like the following;

‘After discussions with her mother they had agreed to give Pernilla an Ipod, an MP3 player hardly bigger than a matchbox which could store her huge CD collection’

Perhaps iPods haven’t made it to Sweden? Or maybe Steig needed to get to a Best Buy more often. And as an aside, I doubt that she had a CD collection … And really, Pernilla?

But thanks to the brightly colored cover, I was reminded constantly of the books popularity (seems like it is everywhere) . I even held out in Costco, which was as tough as passing by the Halloween candy in August when they first put it out, right beside the Christmas decorations.

I finally caved in and this weekend I started reading it. An interesting read, with a complex plot and a list of characters as long as the queue to get a copy of Halo Reach last week. About half way through the 500 page tome, I started to realize that the book was sending me a message. And that message is that I really don’t like reading crime fiction. I find it tedious and irritating (unless it has something like a cool supernatural twist) so I stopped. Rented the movie and started reading Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island.

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